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The bill of law deal­ing with the lib­er­a­tion of pris­on­ers because of Covid 19 exclud­ed polit­i­cal pris­on­ers from this mea­sure. Fol­low­ing a speech by Sez­gin Tan­rıku­lu, CHP deputy (Peo­ple’s Repub­li­can Par­ty) and human rights adovate, a cam­paign has appeared on social media “Ne İşi Var Ceza­evin­de” which could be trans­lat­ed as “What is he/she doing in prison?“

Sez­gin Tan­rıku­lu’s words: [video en turc sur twitter

Dear deputies, I respect­ful­ly salute you. I will make ref­er­ence to His­to­ry, par­tic­u­lar­ly for my “friends” of the AKP.

Turkey’s Con­sti­tu­tion was mod­i­fied on Decem­ber 27 2002. Why was it mod­i­fied? I don’t know if some of you here now remem­ber. It was mod­i­fied for the ben­e­fit of Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan, Gen­er­al Pres­i­dent [of AKP]. Your pres­i­dent could not par­tic­i­pate in the elec­tions on Novem­ber 3 2002. He had been sen­tenced under arti­cle 312: “Incit­ing peo­ple to hatred”. [Someoen adds: he had read a poem]. Yes, he had read a poem. Do you know why he could not par­tic­i­pate in the elec­tions after­wards? “For hav­ing par­tic­i­pat­ed in ide­o­log­i­cal and anar­chic actions”. Had Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan par­tic­i­pat­ed in an “ide­o­log­i­cal and anar­chic” action? I ask you, had he done so? Not in my opin­ion. At the time, as Chair­man of the Diyarbakir Bar Asso­ci­a­tion, I met with his lawyer and offered to be present at his tri­al. Because it was an opin­ion-relat­ed offence. But, accord­ing to the con­sti­tu­tion, since this was con­sid­ered an “ide­o­log­i­cal action”, he could not be a deputy, nor a Prime Min­is­ter. Fol­low­ing which, this Assem­bly, in which the CHP also sits, mod­i­fied the Con­sti­tu­tion for Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan. He was thus elect­ed dur­ing the March elec­tion, deputy, then Prime Min­is­ter.

My friends, this Assem­bly opened the way for him. Do not for­get it!

But today, you the vic­tims, have become tyrants. You main­tain your oppo­nents in pris­ons. And you hold them in death row, dur­ing a full-blown pan­dem­ic. When did you become tyrants? This Assem­bly mod­i­fied the Con­sti­tu­tion so that Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan could enter pol­i­tics and now, here, we vote a law so that polit­i­cal pris­on­ers will stay in prison! And you do not say a thing about it!

Look, here is his own dec­la­ra­tion on Novem­ber 23 2013. He says an amnesty is pos­si­ble for polit­i­cal offences. A top­ic dis­cussed dur­ing the “res­o­lu­tion peri­od” [con­cern­ing the Kur­dish ques­tion].

Lis­ten, dear friends, there is a pan­dem­ic! You are sen­tenc­ing to death all those peo­ple in pre­tri­al deten­tion when no con­dem­na­tion has been pro­nounced against them. This also called tor­ture. Dear friends, exam­ine your con­science, our oblig­a­tion is to let these peo­ple live. What are these peo­ple doing in prison with­out a sen­tence? Meth­ods of judi­cial con­trol exist. Do not allow this cru­el­ty to pro­ceed. Do not allow it! I come from the realm of Jus­tice, I was a lawyer for 25 years, I was chair­man of the Bar…If you allow this kind of thing to go on, the same will hap­pen to you tomor­row. The very same!

Con­se­quent­ly, this Par­lia­ment has duties. We will heed the voice of our con­science, and we, with our con­science, our intel­li­gence, our com­mon sense, will widen this bill so as to include all our cit­i­zens exclud­ed from it. We must estab­lishe jus­tice in the exe­cu­tion of sen­tences.

What are jour­nal­ists, lawyers, polit­i­cal men and women doing in prison? Those who sent their child to a spe­cif­ic school, who deposit­ed their mon­ey in a spe­cif­ic bank, what are they doing in prison? Those who joined unions, what are they doing in prison?

Lis­ten to your con­science. Are they ter­ror­ists? What have they done? Did they com­mit ter­ror­ists acts? Take up arms? Did they glo­ri­fy ter­ror­ism?

Lis­ten [he is speak­ing to the AKP deputies] with this same log­ic, your gen­er­al pres­i­dent was con­sid­ered as par­tak­ing in anar­chic actions? It was the same men­tal­i­ty. Do not be the execu­tor of this log­ic. We were opposed to this cru­el­ty against you. But now, con­cern­ing the vic­tims you have cre­at­ed, you exer­cise the same cru­el­ty by using your major­i­ty.

Stop­ping this is in our hands, all of us. This Par­lia­ment, with these masks, will go down in his­to­ry, will do things that will go down in his­to­ry. But in the future, each and every one will stand before his own con­science, with the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the deaths that will occur.

  • Close friends, chil­dren, par­ents, broth­ers and sis­ters of polit­i­cal pris­on­ers pub­lished mes­sages under­lin­ing the dan­gers threat­en­ing the pris­on­ers in the insuf­fi­cient and sub­stan­dard con­di­tions in prisons.
  • Young chil­dren, new­borns, what are they doing in prison? Preg­nant women…what are they doing in prison?
  • The 840 babies, small chil­dren, sick peo­ple, preg­nant women, the aged, what are they doing in prison?
  • Teach­ers, jour­nal­ists, aca­d­e­mics, writ­ers, lawyers, judges, may­ors, men and women politi­cians, what are they doing in prison?
  • Ana­to­li­a’s chil­dren only attempt­ing to do good for human­i­ty, what are they doing in prison?
  • What are union mem­bers and mem­bers of civil­ian soci­eties doing in prison?
  • What is Ayse Özdo­gan, ill with can­cer, doing in prison?
  • My father is the last per­son who deserves the accu­sa­tions filed against him. If you knew him, you would know what a fine per­son he is. What is he doing in prison?
  • The con­scripts who only fol­lowed orders (dur­ing the attempt­ed coup) what are they doing in prison?
  • What are drug deal­ers doing out­side prison?
  • My broth­er, a His­to­ry pro­fes­sor, what is he doing in prison?
  • My com­pan­ion who would­n’t even kill a fly, who stops our daugh­ter from pick­ing a flower by say­ing “this is also life” what is she doing as a “ter­ror­ist” in prison?
  • My father incar­cer­at­ed for 1 310 days now. My father who nev­er refused to help some­one knock­ing on his door. What is he doing in prison?
  • We have noth­ing more to say…We ask: what are the most intel­lec­tu­al­ly alive peo­ple of this coun­try doing in prison?
  • Those who defend peace, what are they doing in prison?

What are thinkers doing in prison?

This polit­i­cal out­burst by a deputy of the CHP hon­ors him. But the pan­icky gov­ern­ment in Turkey and its Par­ty the AKP, against all rules, cyn­i­cal­ly see an oppor­tu­ni­ty to dou­ble the “pun­ish­ment” on its oppo­nents.

Not only is this polit­i­cal maneu­ver igno­ble, it also illus­trates the extent of the igno­rance of what an exten­sion of the Covid 19 pan­dem­ic inside over­crowd­ed pris­ons could mean, and its dis­as­trous con­se­quences for all of Turkey.

But can you expect any bet­ter from a fascis­tic regime?


Translation by Renée Lucie
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Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.